Andrey Levkiv came painfully close to a 3A state shot-put title in 2007. Just a sophomore, he finished an inch and a half behind the leader and in third place.

Andrey Levkiv came painfully close to a 3A state shot-put title in 2007. Just a sophomore, he finished an inch and a half behind the leader and in third place.

Behind stars Highlanders take on league despite ‘horrible’ track surface to run on

Andrey Levkiv came painfully close to a 3A state shot-put title in 2007. Just a sophomore, he finished an inch and a half behind the leader and in third place.

This season, he’s striving to make sure it isn’t even close. Levkiv has already thrown three distances in 2008 that would have beat the state-winning throw from last year. He has the Seamount’s farthest mark by over eight feet and the nation’s third-longest reported distance.

“All he needs to do is follow through,” said Hazen third-year coach Donald Ponds. “He just does what he does and it works.”

Levkiv will try to improve on last year’s track squad that finished 10-4 overall and 4-3 in the Seamount League (second place at league meet).

“Last year, we were feeling our way through the league and had some success,” Ponds said. “This year we expect success.”

Success, though, has different definitions. Ponds and the team aren’t as concerned about Hazen’s league finish when injuries and other factors force them to decide if an athlete should compete in a meet or not.

“It’s hard when you have state-caliber athletes,” Ponds said. “I think track is first and foremost an individual sport, so the individual takes precedent.”

Ponds and the Hazen coaching staff have already had to deal with this quandary in 2008. Duncan Mackay, one of the team’s two state participants in 2007, hasn’t been able to run the 200-meter race until Hazen’s March 27 meet vs. Highline because of nagging shin splints. So, while Mackay’s absence might hurt the team in points, his health will help later in the season and postseason.

“We want to keep him as injury-free as possible,” Ponds said. “We want him to fulfill his potential.”

MacKay said Hazen’s poor track surface is responsible for MacKay’s, and other Highlanders’, minor maladies. He described the hard and uneven track surface with just one word: “horrible.”

“It’s unfortunate that we have to practice on this track,” Ponds said. “It’s a very hard surface.”

Ponds said even with the injury concerns, Hazen should compete and finish in the top half of the Seamount League.

MacKay will anchor Hazen’s sprinting group. The sophomore competed in the 3A state meet last year in the 200-meter race as just a freshman. MacKay has been able to run the 100-meter race and currently has the Seamount’s fastest time in the race, 11.33 seconds.

“It was great to be at state. I saw just how fast some of the people out there are,” MacKay said. “I’m excited to run the 200, that’s my best race.”

Sophomore James Holland will run the 400-meter race and the 110-meter hurdles. Holland qualified for the district meet last season in the 400,

4X100-meter relay and 4X400-meter relay races. He has the second-fastest time in the Seamount in the 110-meter hurdles this season.

Junior Adriel Johnson will run the 300 and 110-meter hurdles. Senior Bryan Daniels will run the 300-meter hurdles and 100-meter race. Both Johnson and Daniels ran in the district meet last season.

Junior Tomasz Bailey should be a key component in all of Hazen’s relays.

Sophomores Peter VanNuland and Kyle Gibbs will solidify the Hazen distance squad. VanNuland will run the 800-meter and 1600-meter races. Gibbs will run the 1600-meter and 3200-meter races. Junior David Hinckley will compete in the 1600-meter race in addition to the high jump.

Jeff Hinckley has the Seamount’s best mark in the pole vault so far this season and should lead the Hazen jumpers. The junior made it to the district meet last season in the pole vault. Senior Hunter Frerich will be a key for the Hazen jumpers. Frerich finished eighth at the district meet last season in the long jump. He will also compete in the triple jump this season.

Senior Kyle Dawson and junior Caleb Frary are both newcomers and will compete in the high jump, long jump and triple jump.

Junior Courtney Sanders will team with Levkiv to lead the throwers. Sanders threw the third-best distance in the Seamount this season, 47 feet. Seniors Joey Crotty and Aaron Bumgarner will lead the Highlanders in the javelin event. Bumgarner has the second-best league distance so far, while Crotty has the fourth-best.

“We have a strong young team looking to make a huge impact in the Seamount League,” Ponds said. “There is a lot of excitement around the program. We have high expectations.”

On the girls side, freshman Erin Anderson will help the Hazen sprinters. Anderson has the best Seamount time in the 400-meter race so far this season, 64.94 seconds. She will also run the 200-meter race.

A group of freshmen will lead the girls distance group. Michelle Wnek, Audrey Miller, Samantha Zyskowski and Gina Kirklin will all run distance races.

Senior Anna Shure currently holds the fastest Seamount time in the 100-meter hurdles and second-fastest time in the 300-meter hurdles. Shure competed in the hurdles and 4X400-meter relay in the district meet last season.

Juniors Brittany Phillio and Kaysie Rozsonits will lead the Hazen jumpers.

Senior Monica Nevi, junior Leslie Mikolaizlik, senior Courtney Felt and junior Robin Lee will anchor the other field events.

Adam McFadden can be reached at or 425-255-3484, ext. 5054.